Canadian astronaut and prolific tweeter Chris Hadfield is hoping to inspire a "global awareness" with images from space.
In the past few weeks aboard the International Space Station, Hadfield has tweeted dozens of photos. His following has grown to 160,000 people from 20,000.
"To go around the whole world in just slightly over 90 minutes … you see it absolutely as one place," he told reporters in his first press conference live from the International Space Station Wednesday afternoon.
"So when we look down at a place that's in great turmoil, it's hard to reconcile the inherent patience and beauty of the world with the terrible things that we do to each other and to the Earth."
Earth 'beautiful and mesmerizing'
Hadfield said he's grateful he can share photos so easily with people on Earth.
"The favorite pastime of astronauts is looking at the world out the window," he said. "It is so fundamentally beautiful and mesmerizing."
Hadfield told reporters that his photos of noctilucent clouds are the most significant to him.
The high-altitude clouds were first noticed in 1885, about two years after the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa sent plumes of volcanic ash into the Earth's atmosphere.
"As the sun rises, the light bounces off those clouds directly into our eyes," said Hadfield. "And we can see a part of the earth's atmosphere that's basically invisible to people on the surface."
An 'incredible privilege'
For the first time in his 20-year career as an astronaut, Hadfield said he feels like he is not only visiting space, but living there.
On Dec. 19, Hadfield launched aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle. Two days later, he docked at his new orbital home for a five-month stay.
In March, he will become the first Canadian Commander of the station — which is seen as a milestone for Canadian space exploration.
Prior to this mission, Hadfield had spent a total of 20 days in space.
During his stay, he has learned that some things remain the same as on earth.
"I've discovered you can be clumsy in weightlessness … I bump into things," he said.
News of the end to the NHL lockout had reached the International Space Station. Hadfield said he is pleased he will be able to watch games in space.
"What I really like is people that are taking themselves to the limits of their capability to do something which is barely possible, which happens in hockey …. it's what I respect about this place, too," he said.
Hadfield said he will be cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs.